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|Night School(Blood Coven Vampire,book 5) by Mari Mancusi|
“No!” The prime minister cries, rushing toward Magnus, but he trips over Rapunzel’s long blond braid and goes crashing to the ground instead. “Stop!” he cries as tries to scramble to his feet.
Magnus pulls back and studies Sunny’s face, his eyes filled with bloody tears. The crowd goes so silent you could hear a pin drop. (Which, actually, we do, thanks to the Brave Little Tailor at the back of the room.) It’s as if everyone’s holding their breath, waiting to see what my sister will do.
Sunny looks up at Magnus, her cloudy eyes clearing and her face lighting up in recognition. Yes! “Magnus?” she cries. Then she scans the room, her eyes widening in shock. “Where am I? What’s going on here?” She scrunches her face in confusion. “The last thing I remember is being out in the woods, attacked by ...” She trails off, catching sight of all the wings in the room. “Oh my God!” she cries. “Are we in fairyland?”
“Baby, it’s okay,” Magnus assures her, squeezing her tight. “You’re back and I’ve got you and everything’s going to be okay.”
“What is the meaning of this?” demands the prime minister, who’s recovered from his fall and is approaching the altar, an angry look on his face. He turns to the groom, his face stormy. “Apple Junior? Do you care to explain?”
The bridegroom shrugs his shoulders, looking more than a little guilty. “I’m sure I have no idea,” he says sulkily.
“Well, I do.”
Everyone gasps as they turn to see my mother walking into the room, shoulders back and head held high.
“Princess Shrinking Violet!” the prime minister exclaims. “Where did you come from?”
“Your prison,” she replies smoothly. “Where I and my husband have been held captive by Apple Blossom and his men for nearly a month.”
The prime minister’s face reveals genuine shock. I guess he’s not the one who ordered her imprisonment after all. “What?” he cries. “Why would he do something like that? And why wasn’t I informed?”
“Simple,” Mom says. “Apple Blossom had been hungering over the court’s power for years. He thought he had a chance to become king by marrying me, but I chose to run away instead, leaving him stuck in the military without any real power. Now that his son is of marrying age, he thought he’d try again. Marry him to my daughter and install him as a puppet king, while keeping all the power to himself, of course.”
“Actually, it’s even worse than that!” interrupts a familiar voice at the back of the room. We turn to look and my eyes widen as none other than our stepmom, Heather, herself enters the chapel. Where the hell has she been? I hope she’s not mixed up in the bad Slayer Inc. stuff ...
She approaches the stage, bowing low to the prime minister before speaking. “I’ve journeyed to the Dark Court and back,” she says. “And I have proof they were not involved at all in Queen Tatiana’s murder.”
“What?” the Prime Minister cries. “But if not them, then who?”
“Apple Blossom,” Heather pronounces, looking scornfully at the groom. “He had her killed and blamed the Dark Court. That way, he could not only gain the power he sought through his son becoming king, but also gain support for the fairy war he’s been itching to start for years.”
The prime minister stares at Heather in horror. “This can’t be!” he cries. He turns to Apple Seed. “Is this true?” he demands. “Did your father do all of this?”
“You should know your father is dead,” Mom adds. “So don’t go thinking he’s going to save you from any of this.”
Baby Apple hangs his head in shame. “I didn’t want to go along with it.” He sniffles. “But my dad ... he’s really strict. And he doesn’t exactly take no for an answer.” He sounds so dejected I almost feel bad for the kid.
“Guards, take him away!” the prime minister commands, evidently having heard enough. Two burly fairy guards approach and grab the boy’s arms, dragging him offstage. The prime minister watches him go, shaking his head sorrowfully. Then he turns back to us.
“Princess Violet,” he says, bowing low to my mother. “Please forgive me. I had no idea any of this was going on. They told me that your daughter had willingly come to fairyland. I didn’t know she was under a spell.” He lets out a slow breath. “And your mother. Nectar help us, we loved her so. It’s such a tragic loss—especially to know it was by the hands of our own people ...”
Mom lays a hand on his arm. “It’s okay,” she says. “We’ve all made our mistakes. Mine was running from fairyland to begin with. If I hadn’t, none of this would have happened.”
“And now we have no queen at all,” the prime minister says dejectedly. “I don’t know what will become of us.”
Mom gives him a slow smile. “Actually, that’s not true,” she says.
He looks up in surprise. “Are you saying you’ll let Sunshine stay?”
“I’m saying I will stay myself.”
I stare at her in disbelief. Wait, what? Did she just say—
“Technically, I am still next in line for the throne, am I not?” she asks. “And I was hand trained by my mother from birth so I’m more than qualified to wear the crown. Of course, I hope it’s okay I don’t have my wings anymore ...”